If you’ve been reading the Coaching Blogs in the series so far, you may remember that I introduced the GROW Model (Goal, Reality, Options and What Next), via the Goal, two weeks ago. Today it’s the turn of “Reality”.
The Goal is often the most challenging bit of the coaching conversation to pin down; sometimes a coaching client wants to start with one goal in relation to their issue which then changes – because it’s really something else that they need to look at.
Once you’re happy that you’ve got the goal, you start to explore that person’s “Reality”. Why? Because you need to ask and understand how much energy your client has to tackle the issue and how important it really is to them. If the answers to those questions are “None” and “Not very” then you might as well stop there, because little or nothing will happen.
I once had a coaching client whose boss had offered to provide some coaching for her. He explained that she seemed to be lacking a little in “oomph” and wanted to give her an opportunity to explore what was important to her and what she wanted next. However there was an underlying assumption that the next step would involve staying within their organisation. For the client, the real issue was that she wasn’t sure “this” – life in a prestigious professional services firm – was what she wanted. She wanted to explore other interests and possibly retrain. This didn’t come out until the second session, when I challenged her on what she was saying versus what she was doing, and she admitted that she was really there to keep her boss happy and off her back. Net result – no action. We refocused the discussion, she went off to gain her boss’s permission to use the time to talk about life outside the firm and we continued the coaching, but with a focus on where she really did want to go next and how to do that. Result – lots of energy, focus and an action plan that did get put into place.
This lady’s boss was happy for her to use the time in this way because she was a star performer, and although he wanted to keep her, he also understood that fewer and fewer people expect to stay in one organisation for life. He wanted to give her the reward of coaching, in the belief that she would be an ambassador for their firm even – especially – if she went on somewhere else.
In other situations, once you’ve established that the person has the energy, and the goal is sufficiently important, your next step is to discuss what they’ve already tried, and the results so far. Sometimes they haven’t tried anything. Fine – you need to find out why. Maybe it’s because the issue is recent, or they feel overwhelmed with the number of options and need to evaluate them (more on this in two weeks’ time).
You’ll want to know what’s helping them towards their goal, but you also need to know who or what is standing in the way of the problem being solved. Is it genuinely something outwith the coaching client themselves? And if it is, then what are they going to do about it? Finally – for this blog, but not necessarily in this order – you need to know who the client considers “owns” this issue. If they don’t think that they do, again, all bets are off. If they don’t think they do, they’ll spend time and energy naming and shaming other people. If they don’t think they do, your and their time hasn’t been well spent.
In short, before a coaching client can move forward, they need to spend time reflecting on what’s happened already and what can help or hinder them in moving towards their goal. This process of reflecting aloud is something that people report finding enormously helpful and of course it helps the coach to spot patterns in thinking and behaviour, and to put into practice those listening, summarising and reflecting skills that we’ve already covered in previous blogs.
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about the author
Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.